Our Time is Now

(Audrey Kalman/Emerald)

In her latest book, “Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America,” Georgia politician Stacey Abrams provides a road map for American citizens to follow during this tumultuous time in our democracy. Abrams, an attorney by training, served 11 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, including seven as minority leader, before running for governor in 2018. Her valiant crusade for the pressing issue of voting rights is evidenced by her founding of the New Georgia Project, Fair Fight Action, Fair Fight 2020, and Fair Count. This issue of voting takes center stage in “Our Time Is Now.” Abrams provides a clear-cut plan for how we must act to ensure all Americans have access to this foundational principle of democracy. 

Abrams is perhaps best known for running in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race, which she lost to Republican Brian Kemp. Kemp’s victory was narrow and shrouded in skepticism, primarily due to the rampant voter suppression in our country, especially in Georgia. The issue of getting everyone actively involved in our country’s democracy is the central goal of Abrams’ career. In sections of the book including “You’re Outta Here: Excessive Voter Purges,” “The False Seduction of Voter ID,” and “Signatures, Rejections, Curing, Oh My!: Absentee Ballots,” Abrams provides both the history and present situation of how multitudes of Americans are kept from voting in local and national elections. 

Abrams’ writing superbly balances being informative and detailed, but also accessible and easy to read. She does not shy away from the insidious ways that Americans have acted to prevent their fellow citizens from voting throughout our country’s history. But Abrams is still hopeful; her tone is not downcast, despite the discrimination she has experienced during her career. When Abrams went to vote for governor in 2018, she was initially refused a ballot due to incorrect records, which showed she had already voted absentee. Luckily, Abrams knew what she was dealing with. She went to the polling place armed with certainty (and proof) that she was eligible to vote, and cast a historic vote for herself as the first black woman to ever represent a major political party in a gubernatorial race. As Abrams writes in “Our Time Is Now,” she wants every eligible voter to make sure they are similarly informed about how to vote so that they can exercise that right. 

Abrams wants each and every American to be able to defend their right to vote. The key to this is education--about both the history of voter suppression and how important voting is to a functioning democracy. As “Our Time Is Now” thoroughly explains, Americans must not be naive about the way the voting system works in our country. For instance, a voter registration deadline prevented 87,000 Georgians from voting in their 7th Congressional District’s election in 2018. For scale, the election was won by just 433 votes; it was the closest race of its kind in the country. Thousands of voters showed up to polling places thinking they were perfectly eligible to vote, but were turned away for having registered after the arbitrary deadline. Checking and then double-checking your voter registration is what Abrams means when she writes that we must take an active role in making sure we are represented. 

The question of representation leads to Abrams’ second fight, which is getting everyone to participate in the 2020 census. “Our Time Is Now” argues that this is the second most important embodiment of our democracy due to the allocation of resources that comes with the census’ results. As Abrams has stated several times, “the bottom line” is that “if you aren’t counted, you simply won’t count.”

Abrams is a staunch Democrat. But that shouldn’t deter members of any political party from acting in accordance with the arguments presented in “Our Time Is Now.” Abrams wants everyone to vote, and everyone to be counted in this year’s census; she wants our government to accurately represent the inhabitants of our country. That should not be a polarized goal. “Our Time Is Now” is a compelling guidebook that should be in the mind of every voter in this country as they stare down the upcoming November election.